Musician issues: copyright, activism, and making a living in the age of streaming – Future of Music Summit 2013

Text by Adam Witkowski

(Adam Witkowski is Local 802’s director of organizing. Sign up for the latest news about copyright issues at

Photo courtesy of Allegro

Photo courtesy of Allegro

Now in its 12th year, the Future of Music Coalition recently convened its annual summit on the scenic Georgetown University campus in Washington, D.C. The two-day conference brought together people from all walks of the music industry for interviews, workshops and panel discussions focusing on a broad range of issues affecting musicians and the music industry as a whole.

The Future of Music Coalition is a nonprofit group that is, in its own words, “committed to serving as an ongoing resource to musicians, policymakers, and the public about the many challenges and opportunities facing artists today.”

Local 802 once again co-sponsored this year’s event, along with the AFM, NPR Music, Gibson, Google, and other organizations with diverse goals and interests. Along with myself, Local 802 was represented by Executive Board members Gail Kruvand and Andy Schwartz.

Although there were a broad range of topics, two main themes of the summit revolved around copyright issues and activism. Copyright, and its connection to the online streaming services that many believe are the future of how we will consume recorded music, dominated the discussion of day one. And while the debate often got heated, parties from all sides of the issue were able to make their case in some form or another by the day’s end. Bassist Melvin Gibbs, former Pink Floyd manager Peter Jenner, Google Play’s Tim Quirk and others were able to weigh in on the effects that streaming services are having on musicians. And as you may have guessed, they all had very different opinions. Though there were a range of reactions to streaming services like Pandora and Spotify, the two main points were:

  1. These services are making it virtually impossible for artists to make any money from their recorded works, while the companies themselves rake in huge profits.
  2. These services are making it easier than ever before for artists to have their music listened to by more people than ever thought possible.

Read more here in Allegro Volume 113 No. 11 December, 2013: